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Brasil defende etanol como combustível marítimo

  • Market: Biofuels, Petrochemicals
  • 19/10/23

A defesa do uso do etanol como combustível marítimo ganha cada vez mais adeptos no setor energético brasileiro, em um momento em que armadores buscam opções viáveis para descarbonizar a navegação.

Embora o uso do etanol como alternativa ao óleo combustível marítimo tenha ocorrido apenas em fase de teste, o governo estuda, em parceria com empresas navais e companhias sucroalcooleiras, um caminho para alavancar a adoção do biocombustível, fontes disseram à Argus.

A postura adotada pelo Brasil ocorre depois que os membros da Organização Marítima Internacional (IMO, na sigla em inglês), concordaram em reduzir suas emissões em pelo menos 20pc, e de preferência 30pc, até 2030; em pelo menos 70pc, e de preferência 80pc, até 2040; e carbono zero até 2050.

A amônia, o metanol e o hidrogênio estão entre as opções propícias a liderar o esforço global para descarbonizar o transporte marítimo, enquanto alguns armadores estão investindo em novas tecnologias, como a captura e armazenamento de carbono (CCS, na sigla em inglês). Mas o Brasil aposta que o etanol pode desempenhar um papel fundamental nesse futuro.

"Aproveitar nossa experiência com o uso de biocombustíveis em carros e caminhões é um primeiro passo para estruturar soluções para outros setores, incluindo a navegação", disse José Nilton Vieira, coordenador-geral de etanol e biometano no Ministério de Minas e Energia, na conferência sobre navegação verde da IMO, que ocorreu no Chile.

Segundo Vieira, o ministério está estudando formas de substituir gradualmente os combustíveis fósseis na indústria marítima, em linha com o projeto Combustível do Futuro, que estabeleceu metas para setor de aviação.

Futuro flex-álcool

Esse raciocínio está em linha com estudos feitos pela finlandesa Wärtsilä Marine para adaptar o motor flexível do grupo, que opera movido a óleo combustível marítimo e metanol, para também aceitar etanol.

A ideia nasceu na filial brasileira da empresa em 2015, quando o grupo Wärtsila foi contratado pela operadora de balsas sueca Stena Line para converter a embarcação Stena Germanica para operar com metanol.

"Enxergamos que o metanol e o etanol poderiam ser intercambiáveis porque são combustíveis bastante similares", disse o gerente sênior de vendas da empresa na América Latina, Mario Barbosa, à Argus. Os dois combustíveis podem compartilhar características técnicas comuns, como sistemas de injeção e tanques de combustível.

Mas fazer o projeto andar se provou mais difícil do que o esperado, em meio ao debate "food versus fuel" na Europa.

"Os armadores brasileiros são mais receptivos ao conceito porque conhecem bem a infraestrutura por trás da cadeia do etanol em seu país. Para o público europeu, é importante desmistificar crenças sobre sustentabilidade", afirmou Barbosa.

No caminho, a Wärtsilä encontrou um braço amigo na Raízen para realizar estudos de viabilidade, e agora está conduzindo testes em escala comercial em sua sede na Finlândia.

Para operar com metanol, os motores precisam de tanques de combustível que ocupam cerca de 1,7 vezes o tamanho do diesel. Mas, como o etanol tem poder calorífico superior ao de sua substância irmã, menos biocombustível seria consumido para se obter a mesma potência, segundo estudos das empresas.

Próximos passos

A tecnologia, no entanto, é um obstáculo menor em comparação aos próximos desafios que surgirão.

"No fundo, estamos lidando com uma barreira maior de regulação, de visão de mundo e geopolítica, do que de tecnologia", disse à Argus Mateus Lopes, diretor global de transição energética e investimentos da Raízen, em um evento da indústria de etanol.

Lopes acredita que o maior desafio é convencer participantes do setor naval de que o etanol brasileiro pode ajudar a atingir as metas regulatórias da IMO para 2050.

"A indústria marítima está olhando esse mundo eletrificado do hidrogênio, da amônia e do metanol, mas esquecendo de um produto que está na prateleira com 80 milhões de litros disponíveis e que pode ser combinado com essas outras soluções para construir um roadmap", disse.

O executivo da Raízen vê semelhanças com os desafios atuais na indústria de combustível sustentável de aviação (SAF, na sigla em inglês). "Nossa tarefa é sentar à mesa e compartilhar informações para que o etanol seja percebido como uma opção imediata."

Por Vinicius Damazio


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